New Orleans-born, Jakarta-raised, now Perth-based chef Liam O’Neil’s experiences travelling the world with the biggest names in the music industry are as unique as his nourishing juices.
What first lead you to establishing Re:Fresh? What were your motivations?
There are quite a few things that motivated me to start Re:Fresh Juice + Cleanse. First and foremost was my own personal health. I have never been really unhealthy but I wanted to take better care of myself and surround myself with motivated and healthy people, while still creating amazing products to share.
Making juice is a great way for me to work closely with local farmers and support other local businesses trying to push the boundaries, like we do at Re:Fresh. Finally, I felt that a restaurant or café was very limiting. Now we are in around 60 bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels all over WA and we deliver straight to your door. There are so many more avenues for me to get creative with.
You’ve had quite the upbringing that has exposed you to many parts of the world. Tell us a little about where you’ve lived and how this has influenced your professional background?
I was lucky enough to be born in New Orleans, Louisiana, which is one of the food and music capitals of the world. Growing up in Jakarta, Indonesia, surrounded by great food and culture also left its mark on me. My mother is still always creating amazing food in our family kitchen. So whether it was in uptown New Orleans, an island off Indo or in Perth, I was always drawn to the kitchen. Becoming a chef was what I always wanted to do growing up, so during high school I started my apprenticeship and did lots of work experience. I have worked as a chef now for over 15 years. Now professional kitchens are something I admire from the restaurant dining room, and I am lucky enough to cook for pleasure these days. Music and cooking is what I do to relax.
As an advocate for sustainability, can you tell us how you incorporate this in to Re:Fresh?
We purchase a majority of our produce direct from farmers and usually at the price we would pay at the markets, this way our farmers are getting compensated properly for their hard work. We have to start with the best produce to yield the best product.
We try and reuse some of our waste. For example, we make Apple Cider Vinegar with our apple waste. We highly encourage the collection of our bottles once our wholesale customers are finished with them. We have roughly a 90% return rate and some bottles we are still using now are almost 3 years old.
We hear you’ve travelled the world with some of the biggest names in the music industry. How did this come about?
This was such a pivotal point early on in my career. I was lucky enough to work with a chef and only talked about music, travel and food. It turned out his brother did these things for a job all over the world. So I moved to London and worked for an agency that contracted me out to bands. When starting out I worked with smaller bands and smaller venues, but after working with one production manager who goes on to a bigger band, they would recommend chefs they liked and thus we would work with bigger and bigger names. When working for Madonna we had a solid kitchen team (18 chefs) who were all going to go straight on to the Michael Jackson tour. I still remember the bar I was in in London when I saw the news on the TV of his passing.
Hemp milk – why this should be our next milk alternative?
Hemp milk is incredible for so many reasons. I’ll start off with the farming… The hemp plant isn’t as susceptible to bugs, it deposits nutrients back into the soil, and takes considerably less water to grow. So next-to-no fertilisers and pesticides, and less water makes it great for farmers. It is also an amazing option for stock rotation and dollar-per-kilo price, so the farmers benefit.
As far as human consumption goes, in 250mls of hemp milk there is roughly 48% of your daily calcium intake. It contains Omega-3 and Omega-6, which are more effective when consumed together. Hemp hearts are 33% protein that is very easily digested by your body. Hemp milk contains all of the essential amino acids, potassium, magnesium, vitamin D, iron, zinc… I could keep going.
What’s next for Re:Fresh?
We are constantly evolving and working on new flavours that showcase our amazing WA produce. Now the Hemp Milk is on the shelves we are working on powerful elixir shots to really take cleansing and health to another level.